(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Bishop Atkinson and the church in the Confederacy"

:.;,^i._-.-... 



BISHOP ATKINSON 



AND 



THE CHURCH IN THE CONFEDERACY 



The Rt. Rev. Jos. Blount Cheshire, D.D. 

Bishop of North CaroHna 



'i^m: 




Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2011 witii funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/bishopatkinsonch11ches 






The Rt. Rev. Thos. Atkinson, D.D.,LL.D. 



BISHOP ATKINSON 

AND 

THE CHURCH IN THE CONFEDERACY 



BY 
The Rt. Rev. Jos. Blount Cheshire, D.D. 

Bishop of North Carolina 



Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, Raleigh, N. C. 
1909 



An Address Delivered at the Laying of the Corner 
Stone of the Bishop Atkinson Memorial Church, 
Charlotte, IST. C, August 6th, 1909, by the Rt. Rev. 
the Bishop of North Carolina. 



Bishop Atkinson and the Church in 
the Confederacy. 



The third Bishop of N^orth Carolina occupied a somewhat 
unique position among our Southern Bishops in his attitude 
towards the difficult problems presented to the Church, both 
at the beginning and at the close of the war between the 
States, His position was not always understood, nor did his 
course at the time command universal approval. But it was 
his power of seeing clearly, and of reasoning accurately, 
amid the clouds and clamor of those perilous times, which, 
more than any other single influence, brought the Church in 
peace and unity and unfeigTied charity through trials which 
otherwise might have split it into discordant and hostile com- 
munions. Having truth with him he dared to seem to stand 
alone ; and all the more contentedly and patiently, because 
his love and confidence towards his brethren made him feel 
sure that the truth would in the end bring all together again 
in pursuit of their great and holy purpose. 

It has long been my deliberate judgment that in his wonder- 
ful combination of spiritual elevation, moral earnestness, 
intellectual power, and sound judgment, Bishop Atkinson 
was the greatest man I have ever known. He was like a 
little child in purity of character, in perfect sincerity and un- 
afi"ectedness. He did not condescend to the lowly, because 
his generous love and genuine sympathy saw all men on the 
level of a redeemed humanity. He was the kindest and 
most charming of companions, with a sweet and gentle humor, 
which insensibly reconciled and harmonized the possible dis- 
cordances and incongruities of the most heterogeneous gather- 
r^ ing; and yet there Avas ever about him an atmosphere of 
, unaffected and unconscious goodness and purity, which seemed 

^ to make a base thought or an unlovely word unthinkable and 

^ unspeakable in his presence. As a preacher he perfectly illus- 

Q trated that definition of eloquence which makes it consist in 



i- 



convincing the mind and moving the heart, rather than in 
pleasing the taste ; which makes the hearer say to himself 
''How true, and how just!" rather than "How beautiful" or 
"How eloquent I" Absorbed in the greatness of his message, 
and in the solemn responsibility of delivering it, he would 
have scorned the artificial graces of oratory, if he had thought 
at all about them. It never once entered his mind that he 
was preaching an eloquent sermon. I have never forgotten 
the impression made upon me when I was about fourteen 
years old, and had, with a familiarity which his affectionate 
treatment of me allowed, repeated to him what a rather 
shallow clergyman had said about the neglect of the culti- 
vation of oratory by our clergy, as compared with some other 
ministers. Up to that time I had heard little preaching ex- 
cept that of my o%\m father, and of the Bishop himself; and 
I had a rather high opinion of the quality of preaching in 
the Church. I confidently expected to hear the Bishop repel 
the suggestion that our clergy were in any respect behind 
those of our Christian brethren about us. He looked at me 
for a moment in silence, with his accustomed expression of 
serious benignity, and then said : "My son, oratory is the last 
thing I wish to see my clergy cultivate." I did not under- 
stand him then, but it seems to me now a speech most 
characteristic of the man, and of the preacher. To him the 
great things in preaching were so very great and absorbing 
that he never got down to the level of a cultivated and con- 
scious oratory. And therein lay his excellence as a speaker, 
and that real eloquence where power of thought and earnest- 
ness of purpose are by the heat of unaffected love fused into 
a living word, which goes straight to the heart and mind with 
the irresistible force of an electric shock. To me he was 
the most impressive and convincing preacher I have ever 
listened to, and the most simple and unaffected in his method 
and in his manner. 

I can not refrain from giving here two interesting ex- 
periences, told me by Bishop Atkinson himself, which I have 



never seen in print, or heard from others. His first charge 
was in Norfolk, his second in Lynchburg. He had been 
born, baptized, and brought np, in the Church, as had his 
ancestors before him. He was of an old Virginia Church 
family, though several of his brothers and sisters became 
Presbyterians early in their life. In his youth the Church in 
Virginia, as in most other parts of the country, was but be- 
ginning to learn the significance and the value of her own 
standards of doctrine and of worship. The clergy had been 
so few, and so overburdened with the care of widely scattered 
congregations and individuals, that they had not been able to 
put into use the devotional methods of the Church ; and many 
of her holy and edifying services had been neglected and 
forgotten. But the spirit was moving upon the dry bones, 
and clergy and people were beginning to understand, as well 
as to love, their spiritual mother, and more and more to 
recover their lost heritage, lost to use, but preserved for them 
in the Prayer Book. 

The young rector at Lynchburg, in his diligent study of 
the Prayer Book, observing with renewed attention its vari- 
ous contents, began to think for the first time about the 
Collects, Epistles and Gospels for the Saints' Days, and other 
minor festivals. He had never seen them used, and he won- 
dered why they were there, in the very midst of the book, 
and closely associated with those in common use. And then 
he began to feel that they must be there because the Church 
intended them for use. This seemed a strange and startling 
thought, but he could see no other explanation. He did not 
lack courage to act alone, but he had modesty and humility 
which made him fear to set himself up as wiser or better 
than his brethren. He felt that he must seek counsel. 

It was in those days a long journey from Lynchburg to 
Petersburg, in the heavy stage coach, or by private convey- 
ance, along the ill-made and worse-kept roads of mountain 
and of low country. But this question had to be settled ; 
and so he took that journey to confer with a kindred spirit. 



G 

the Rev. jSTieholas Cobbs, rector of St. Paul's Church, and 
afterwards the first Bishop of Alabama, a ''Saint of the 
Southern Church," as he has justly been called. It came out 
in their conference that the same thoughts had been exercis- 
ing the mind and conscience of good brother Cobbs; and he 
had come to the same conclusion. So, then and there, these 
two agreed that from that time on they would endeavor to 
observe the days and seasons of the Church's year, as they 
are set forth in the Prayer Book. And that, Bishop Atkin- 
son said to me, was the beginning of the observance of these 
minor festivals in Virginia, so far as he knew and believed. 

The second experience which he related to me brings us 
a little nearer to our subject. When the Diocese of Indiana, 
in 1S43, came to elect its first Diocesan Bishop, the choice 
fell on the Rev. Thomas Atkinson, rector of St. Peter's 
Church, Baltimore. At this time he had been only seven 
years in the ministry, and had come in from the bar, with- 
out, I believe, the advantage of a course in a theological 
seminary. He promptly declined: his Nolo Episcopari, 
being the simple expression of his sense of his unprepared- 
ness. The Diocese of Indiana then chose another for Bishop, 
who also declined. Thereupon Indiana in 1846 again called 
him. This was quite an extraordinary experience. I re- 
member no similar case, except that of the diocese of Wash- 
ington, and Bishop Brent. And even that was not quite the 
same, for Bishop Brent was already a tried man in the 
Episcopate, and a proved success. 

This second election seemed to carry with it a strong pre- 
sumption of a providential call to that work, and his mind 
was adjusting itself to what seemed an inevitable duty, when 
he received a letter from an old Lynchburg friend, who for 
some years had been living in Indiana. This friend had left 
Virginia because his intense dislike of slavery had made 
him unwilling any longer to live in contact with it. Bishop 
Atkinson himself had a strong sense of the disadvantages 
and evils of slavery, though he was also sensible of the diffi- 



ciilty of finding any just and practicable means of abolishing 
it in the South. He had freed all his own slaves who wished 
to be freed and to go to the free States, and had kept only 
those who voluntarily chose to remain in the South. His 
old friend wrote expressing the pleasure he anticipated in 
seeing him Bishop of Indiana, and begged him to bring his 
family to his house, and to make his house his home there 
until he should have leisure to make his permanent arrange- 
ments. He then added that the Bishop must be prepared to 
live and work in a community where the feeling against 
slavery and slave owners was becoming so inflamed and bit- 
ter, that the writer of the letter as a Southern man, though 
opposed to slavery, found himself in a painful and embar- 
rassing position. 

This letter caused him to decline for a second time the call 
of Indiana. Little as he was attached to the institution of 
slavery, and thankful as he could have been to see it justly 
and peacefully abolished, he felt quite sure that, if in Indiana 
his friend could not live in comfort on account of the state 
of public feeling, he could not hope to be happy and con- 
tented in his work, since he would probably, as time went on, 
find himself more and more out of sympathy with his people 
on the great and absorbing question of the day. 

In the year 1853 the Diocese of South Carolina was to 
elect a Bishop. There was a strong feeling in favor of elect- 
ing the Rev. Dr. Atkinson. But rumors had reached that 
State as to his feeling about slavery, and prominent persons 
in that Diocese communicated with him, asking for an ex- 
pression of his views on the subject. He replied promptly 
in effect that he felt slavery to be a disadvantage, though he 
could not see how to get rid of it. But he declared that if 
it came to a choice between slavery and the Union, he should 
say, let slavery go, and preserve the Union of the States. 
That is, as I remember, the substance of his reply. This 
letter, he said, prevented his being elected Bishop of South 
Carolina ; and Bishop Davis was chosen. My old friend Gen. 



8 

Thomas F. Drayton, told me that he was a member of the 
South Carolina Diocesan Convention of 1853, and well re- 
membered the letter of Bishop Atkinson, which was made 
known to the members of the Convention, he himself having 
seen and read it; and he said but for that letter Bishop 
Atkinson would certainly have been their choice for Bishop. 

''So," Bishop Atkinson said to me, "I was not Bishop of 
Indiana, because I was not sufficiently opposed to slavery ; 
and I was not Bishop of South Carolina, because I was not 
sufficiently in favor of it." 

And that is an example of how he went, not with one 
party or with the other; but thought his own straight clear 
thought, and spoke out his own honest words, and acted upon 
his own solid convictions; modest and quiet and gentle, but 
absolutely fixed and immovable in loyalty to his own con- 
science and to his own judgment. 

And so, throughout the trials and perplexities of war, and 
the overturning of established order, and the subversion of 
civil and ecclesiastical institutions and precedents, we find 
in him the same unperturbed spirit, the same serene, un- 
ruffled temper, the same clear thoughts, the same loyalty to 
well-considered principles, and the same safe and solid judg- 
ment. In the crisis produced by the secession of the South- 
ern States and the outbreak of war, violently rending the 
country in twain, and separating the Southern Dioceses from 
those in the North, he seems to have stood alone among the 
Soithern Bishops in his clear and accurate views as to the 
status of the Dioceses thus actually isolated. In that still 
more critical moment, after the war was at an end, he again 
stood alone in the policy which guided his Diocese. 

The view of the other Southern Bishops came practically 
to this — that the secession of a State from the Union was 
ipso facto the separation of the Diocese from the Church in 
the United States ; that, having ceased to be citizens of the 
United States, they could no longer as individuals or as 
Dioceses be connected with the Church in the United States, 



9 

but were at once separated from it, without any action of 
their own, and freed from the obligations of its Constitution 
and Canons. Bishop Atkinson denied this. While granting 
that the separation produced by civil and political acrion 
might justify, and even require, a separate organization for 
the Church in the South, he maintained that the mere action 
of the States could have no effect whatever i'pso facto upon 
the unity of the Church; and consequently that, until the 
Southern Dioceses should as such take action, they were still 
part of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. 
This position he put forth and argued with great force in his 
Convention addresses, at Morganton in 1861, and at Chapel 
Hill in 1862. In the latter of these he says: 

"It is certain that the Diocese of ISTorth Carolina was, in 
the autumn of 1860, a part of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church in the United States, and it is equally certain that 
that Church has done no act since to exscind it, nor has the 
Diocese by its own act withdrawn itself. If then it be not 
now a part of the same Church, it must have been cut off by 
virtue of the political change produced by the secession of 
the State. But could the State, by any political act, destroy 
the organization of the Church, and annul its Constitution 
and Canons, which were its bonds of union with the Church 
in the United States ? If it be the Church of Jesus Christ, 
or a part of the Church of Jesus Christ (and which of its 
members will declare it not to be ?), then the State can neither 
make nor unmake it, alter or amend it, directly or indirectly ; 
for Jesus Christ said : "My kingdom is not of this world." 
His Church, so far from being the creature of the State, or 
the subject of the State, or in the power of the State, like 
clay in the hands of the potter, to receive any shape the State 
may choose to give, — His Church, instead of being thus 
ductile and malleable, was planted in spite of the State, and 
grew up and flourished under the most vehement and obsti- 
nate assaults and opposition of the State. He, then, that 
proclaims that the Protestant Episcopal Church is changed 



10 

in its organization and laws by the mere act of the State, 
does, however little he may intend it, yet in effect declare 
that it may be a very respectable religious denomination, 
wealthy, refined, and orderly, but that it is no part of the 
Church of Christ; and does in effect advise all its members, 
if they desire to partake of the blessings of the Church of 
Christ, to come out of that Protestant Episcopal Society and 
go elsewhere for those blessings. I do not see, then, how 
any considerate man, who does believe in the authority and 
mission of the Church, can suppose that its organization has 
been broken up by the mere act of the State. * * * 

"We do not lose our rights and interest, then, in that 
Church, by ceasing to be citizens of the United States, but 
only when we voluntarily withdraw from that Ecclesiastical 
organization and establish another for ourselves. This, I 
conceive, we had the right to do, even if the United States 
had not been divided, were there sufficient cause for it; and 
that division does itself furnish sufficient cause. In the 
meantime, according to my belief, until we form a new 
organization, the old continues to subsist. There is no inter- 
regnum of anarchy. We are not left weltering in chaos, 
without a Constitution, without any binding regulations for 
the consecration of Bishops, for the ordination of clergy- 
men, for the enforcement of discipline, so that each man is 
free to do what is right in his own eyes. God forbid we 
should ever be in such a condition." 

This view of the question was not popular in the South. 
Inflamed with all the passions engendered by civil strife, the 
members of the Church, being in large proportion leaders of 
public sentiment, and identified with the Southern cause, 
chafed at the idea of any connection with the invading enemy. 
Bishop Polk, of Louisiana, in an address to his Diocese, 
maintained in its fullest extent the view reprobated by Bish- 
op Atkinson ; and declared that by the secession of the State 
of Louisana, ipso facto,' the Diocese of Louisana was sepa- 
rated from the Church in the United States, and stood iso- 



11 

lated, without organic couuection with any other Church or 
Diocese. This frank and bold statement shocked many 
minds, but logically it differed but little, so far as I have 
been able to learn, from the position taken by most of the 
Southern Bishops. Bishop Elliott, of Georgia, declared that 
by the secession of the Southern States the Southern Bishops 
had ceased to be Bishops of the United States, apparently 
meaning that by necessary inference they had ceased to be 
Bishops of the Church in the United States. And this 
seemed to be the general attitude of the Southern Bishops, 
so far as I can make out. 

As the state of the country did in fact make a separation, 
and a cessation of all ordinary intercourse and communi- 
cation, and as Bishop Atkinson recognized the necessity of 
withdrawing from the Church in the United States, and 
forming an organization conterminous with the bounds of the 
Confederacy, the distinction between his position and that of 
other Southern Bishops may seem merely doctrinaire. But 
it shows how carefully and clearly he thought out his po- 
sition, and how faithfully he stood by his convictions. And 
this clear-sightedness into essential principles gave him a 
courage in action, and gave him a moral weight, which was 
of vast moment in the end. 

In the meantime his view was proved to be not merely 
doctrinaire by two occurrences, which subjected him for the 
time to serious misrepresentation and distress. Some time 
in 1861, after ISTorth Carolina had seceded, he received the 
canonical notice of the election of the Eev. Wm. Bacon 
Stevens, as Assistant Bishop of Pennsylvania. As the Dio- 
cese of North Carolina had as yet taken no action towards 
changing its relations with the Church of the United States, 
he felt it to be his duty to signify to the Presiding Bishop 
his canonical consent to this election. In March, 1862, still 
before any action by this Diocese, he was asked to take part 
in the consecration of his friend, the Eev. Richard H. 
Wilmer, as Bishop of Alabama. Dr. Wilmer could not be 



.12 

consecrated in accordance with the Constitution and Canons 
of the Church in the United States ; and the proposed Con- 
stitution of the Church in the Confederate States had not yet 
been ratified. Bishop Atkinson thought that the constitu- 
tionality and regularity of the transmission of the Episcopal 
Commission were of too much importance to be set aside 
merely to avoid a few months' delay. He therefore felt 
obliged to decline to take part in the consecration of a Bish- 
op, which he regarded as unauthorized. 

These two cases, first his concurrence in the election and 
consecration of a Northern Bishop, and then his refusal to 
approve or to participate in the consecration of a Southern 
Bishop, gave occasion for much misconception and misrepre- 
sentation of his position and feelings, and were a cause of 
much pain and annoyance to him. They afford, however, 
another example of his high loyalty to his convictions, and 
of the calm confidencewith which he followed the conclusions 
of his judgment. 

This embarrassing situation was ended, when on the 16th 
day of May, 1862, the Convention of the Diocese ratified the 
Constitution of the Church in the Confederate States, and 
JSTorth Carolina took its place among the Dioceses of the 
Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of 
America. 

In the meeting at Columbia, South Carolina, in Octobet, 
1861, in the proj)osed Constitution, the Rev. Richard Hines, 
an old North Carolina clergyman, then representing the Dio- 
cese of Tennessee, moved to substitute the words "Reformed 
Catholic" in the place of the words "Protestant Episcopal," 
in the name of the Church; and Bishops Atkinson, Otey 
and Green voted for the change. We may almost say that 
this was a North Carolina vote, as only one other vote besides 
these four was cast for it, and that by one who had been a 
clergyman of this Diocese ; though our own clerical and lay 
representatives at Columbia voted in the negative. 

During the continuance of the war Bishop Atkinson pur- 



13 

sued diligently the round of his administrative and pastoral 
duties ; visiting his parishes and missions, comforting the 
bereaved and afflicted, preaching in the camps to the soldiers, 
and, after the death of the Rev. Dr. Drane, assuming the 
rectorship of St. James' Church, Wilmington, in addition 
to his other duties. 

I wish I had space to give the prayers which from time to 
time he put forth to express the devout hopes and wants of 
his people under their sore burdens. In heart and mind he 
was at one with them in all their trials, sufferings, aspir- 
ations, hopes and sorrows. And through all he had his people 
and his Diocese with him. They appreciated his great quali- 
ties, and common sufferings increased their mutual confidence 
and love. His Diocese and his Convention felt safe in taking 
their stand upon the ground selected by their leader. 

When the end came he had his share of the personal suffer- 
ings and outrage with which the invading and now victorious 
army emphasized their triumph. His own simple account is 
most characteristic. Speaking of the approach of General 
Sherman''s army to Wadesboro, where he then resided with his 
family, he says: "I thought it right to remain, and not to 
leave my household exposed to outrage, and without any 
protection. I supposed, too, that my age and office wOuld 
secure me against outrage. In this, it turned out that I was 
mistaken. I was robbed of property of considerable value, 
and that it might be accomplished more speedily and com- 
pletely, a pistol was held at my head. While I do not affect 
to be indifferent, either to the outrage, or to the loss I have 
sustained, I felt at the time, and still feel, that it is a weighty 
counterbalancing consideration, that, partaking of the evils 
which the people of my charge have been called upon to 
undergo, I could the more truly and deeply sympathize with 
them in their sufferings." I have been told, I can not be 
sure whether by the Bishop himself, or by some other, that 
when the soldier held his cocked pistol at the Bishop's head, 
and commanded him to s^ive him his watch, the Bishop calmly 



14 

but firmly refused to do so. The rufiian then reached down 
from his horse and seized the watch, and took it from him. 
He offered no resistance — to have done so would have been 
both useless and unseemly — but he would not for fear give 
up his property by his own act. He could be robbed, but 
he could not be intimidated. 

I must endeavor very briefly to summarize the events of 
September and October, 1865 ; when, as all must now con- 
fess, Bishop Atkinson was the instrument in God's good 
providence, for reuniting the divided Church, and so healing 
the breach that not even a scar remains to show there was 
ever a wound. This was peculiarly the work of Bishop 
Atkinson, and of his Diocese under his guidance. His 
friend, and nephew by marriage, Bishop Lay, was in all 
things like-minded with him in this critical period ; and 
together they represented the Southern Church at the General 
Convention of 1865 in Philadelphia. But Bishop Lay had 
no Diocese behind him, and his own case, with that of Bish- 
op Wilmer, of Alabama, constituted one of the problems 
to be solved in order to effect a reunion. He had before the 
war been Missionary Bishop of the Southwest. During the 
war, by the Church in the Confederate States, he had been 
made Bishop of the new Diocese of Arkansas. He did not 
therefore occupy an assured position for mediating between 
the two parties. 

And now that soundness of judgment and clear view into 
the true principles of Church polity, which Bishop Atkin- 
son had showed in 1861, became manifest. Of all the South- 
ern Bishops he was the least embarrassed or trammeled 
by the results of the war. Those who had maintained, in 
theory or in practice, that political separation, ipso facto, 
produced, nay effected, ecclesiastical division, had to face the 
correlative of that proposition — namely, that the restoration 
of civil union necessitated, if it did not ipso facto restore, 
ecclesiastical unity. He, on the contrary, had maintained, 
and had acted upon the principle, that political union or dis- 



15 

union did not of itself at all affect the Constitution or organi- 
zation of the Church. Therefore, when the war ended, and 
the union of the States was assured, his position was no ways 
aifected. His hands were free, and his mind was also free. 
He had no need to struggle to reconstruct his principles, or 
to cast about how he might save the remnants from the wreck. 
Party heat had not affected his judgment in 1861, and he 
came to the consideration of the situation in 1865, with the 
same calm mind and clear vision. He said to his people, in 
effect: The war is over. Bitter as is the confession — we 
have failed — and all the States are again united under the 
authority of the Federal Government. We acted for the best. 
We have no regrets, and we make no apologies. We formed 
the Church in the Confederate States, because we found it 
necessary to do so, W^e did not wait to ask permission from 
the Dioceses in the IsTorth. The emergency was, and is, the 
explanation and the justification of our course. Facing the 
present situation, and feeling, as we did in 1861, that we have 
the right to act freely, and are not controlled or constrained 
by the course of political events, we find that the interests 
of the Church, and consistency with our own principles and 
professions, require us to go back to the Church in the United 
States. We believe our sister Dioceses will follow us, but we 
must act upon our own convictions. We can not wait because 
others are so situated that they can not act with us at this 
moment. We can act at once, and we believe it is for the 
interests of all that we should act at once. And so ITorth 
Carolina showed then, as perhaps she has at other times 
shown, that she can be prompt when the occasion calls for it, 
though sometimes she is slow. 

In Christ Church, Kaleigh, September 13, 1865, Bishop 
Atkinson met his Convention, and advised the election of 
deputies to attend the General Convention, which was to meet 
in Philadelphia just three weeks from that day. He had 
received kindly assurances of welcome from prominent 
Churchmen in the ISTorth. He knew that no other Southern 



16 

Diocese could be fully represented. He felt that it was of 
vast moment that the Southern Church should be represented, 
and he put this view of the subject before his Convention. 
His Convention trusted him, and they followed their leader. 
My friends, the greatest military critic who has written upon 
the war between the States, says that one great advantage 
the Southern soldier had over the Northern soldier in all the 
early campaigns of that war, was that he trusted his leader. 

But it was not an easy thing to follow our great Bishop 
in that sad and critical year, 1865. We now see that it was 
well done: but our fathers could not see: they could only 
hope and believe. In that Convention the Bishop was op- 
posed by some of the best and noblest men who have ever 
served at our altars or worshiped before them. They feared 
that the Bishop's desire for the unity of the Church was 
misleading his judgment. The strength of this feeling is 
indicated, I think, by the fact that when the Convention had 
voted to refer the Bishop's proposition to a special committee, 
the Rev. Alfred A. Watson, one of the best and truest men 
who ever sat in our Convention, moved ''that this committee 
l)e aj^pointed by election." The motion was rejected; and 
then the Bishop showed his quality by giving the mover the 
next to the highest place on the committee. When the Com- 
mittee reported favorably upon the Bishop's proposition, the 
Rev. Mr. Watson brought in a minority report, and a small 
but earnest and able minority of the Convention seem to 
have supported him in opposing what they felt to be a hasty 
and undigiiified return. But the Convention stood very 
solidly by the Bishop, having in it some of the ablest men of 
the State; and the Reverend Doctors Mason, Cheshire, Hub- 
bard, and Hodges, of the clergy, with the Hon. Wm. H. 
Battle, Mr. Richard H. Smith, Mr. Kemp P. Battle, and 
Col. Robt. Strange, of the laity, were elected dejDuties to the 
General Convention. 

In my judgment that ac'tion of the Convention of the Dio- 
cese of North Carolina was the critical and decisive act by 



lY 

which the happy course of our Church history after the wai- 
was determined. Bishop Atkinson could not have acted the 
part he did act, nor would his action have had the effect whiv^h 
it did have, but for the fact that he had his diocese with him 
in mind and heart, and also visibly represented in the House 
of Deputies, with its full quota of able and distinguished men 
whose names stood for something in Church and State. Great 
as he was in himself, it showed that he did not represent 
only himself, but that back of him there was in the Southern 
Church a great body of clergymen and laymen, loyal to the 
Church, and ready to face bravely present duty, in spite of 
the past, if they should meet the same loyalty and mag- 
nanimity in the Churchmen of the North. 

And who shall doubt that the presence of Bishop Atkin- 
son and Bishop Lay and those other Southern Churchmen, 
for Tennessee and Texas sent also partial delegations, called 
out that generous spirit with which the General Convention 
met them ! 

But, -I say, it was not an easy thing which those men did 
who went to Philadelphia from this Diocese in October, 1865. 
They went with anxious hearts, and against the judgment of 
some of our best men. I well remember how my uncle, the 
late Governor Clark, of Edgecombe, one of the gentlest and 
most generous of men, went with my father to the railway 
station the morning he was leaving for Philadelphia, and 
begged him not to go. "At least wait," he said, ''until the 
other Southern Dioceses can act with us." And in Peters- 
burg, where my father stopped in passing with an old parish- 
ioner, the rector of St. Paul's Church called on him, and was 
politely humorous and sarcastic in suggesting the kind of 
reception he might find awaiting him. The way of the peace- 
maker is not always peaceful or pleasant. Our carnal mind 
loves a fight, and hates to give it up. 

I have no time to repeat the story of the Convention of 
1865, of how nobly and beautifully our brethren of the :N'orth 
responded to the confidence shown in them by those who had 



18 

come from the South to this meeting. It has often been told, 
and bj none better or more authoritatively than by Bishop 
Lay, in his admirable memorial sermon preached before our 
Convention of 1881 in Christ Church, Raleigh. 

There again came forth Bishop Atkinson's wonderful 
clarity of thought and accuracy and felicity of expression. 
"A word spoken in season, how good it is !" That Conven- 
tion, coming at the end of a great war, had to thank God 
for the restoration of peace. It was a necessity of the situ- 
ation. And they were J^orthern men ; and most of them be- 
lieved in their hearts that slavery had been a national dis- 
gi'ace and curse, and that secession was a crime against the 
life of the nation. Whatever we may think, let us be fair- 
minded and generous enough to see just how they looked at 
it. They were thankful for the destruction of all that system 
of labor and of politics which had gone down in the issues 
of the contest. And now when they come to have their 
thanksgiving they must find some terms in which without 
offense they may ask their Southern brethren to join. And 
after much labor and travail, and a generous effort to sup- 
press their own feelings, in deference to their Southern 
brethren, they had managed to reduce all their joy and 
triumph to a simple expression of thanksgiving for the res- 
toration of peace and unity under the restored national au- 
thority. Could more than this have been expected from 
ordinary mortals ? 

And then the great and good Southern Bishop, whom 
many of them loved and admired, and whom one of their own 
Dioceses had twice elected as its Bishop — he stood up and 
said, in his noble and gracious but uncompromising manner : 
We can not join you in such a thanksgiving, but we can join 
you in thanking God for the restoration of peace to the 
country and unity to the Church. 

And they accepted his offer ; and they gave thanks as he 
prescribed. I profess to you, my dear friends and brethren, 
that my admiration for the courage and wisdom and grace 



19 

of our great Bishop, is almost surpassed by my gratitude to 
God our Father for the magnanimity and Christian brotherli- 
ness which so nobly responded to his appeal. And was ever 
a more eloquent word spoken by a Bishop of the American 
Church ? 

As I think of him unmoved in his serene clearness of 
thought and purity of purpose amid all civil discords and 
party strife, and then equally calm, dignified, unfearing, 
while the ruffian soldier threatens his life, I am reminded of 
the words of the Latin poet: 

" Just, in high purpose fixed, this man nor breath 
Malign of threatening people, nor the face 
Of lawless force, from his firm mind may shake."* 

And then when I think of the divine faith and love which 
lay underneath all this firmness, and gave beauty to that life, 
and was in him an unfailing spring of inward peace and 
hope and refreshing, those familiar English lines seem to 
suggest themselves, as perfectly fulfilled and justified in his 
life and character: 

" Like some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, 

Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm. 
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, 
Eternal sunshine settles on his head." 

Raleigh, N. C, August 3, 1909. 



Justum et tenacem propositi virum 
Non civium ardor prava jubentium, 
Non vultus instantis tyranni, 
Mente quatit solida. 

— Horace, Odes III 3. 



20 



SPECIAL PRAYERS SET FORTH FOR USE BY 
BISHOP ATKINSON. 

In the Spnng of 1861. 

Almightj God, our Heavenly Father, in Whose hands are 
the hearts of men and the issues of events, and Who hast gra- 
ciously promised to hear the prayers of those who, in an 
humble spirit, and with true faith, call upon Thee; be 
pleased, we beseech Thee, favorably to look upon and bless 
the Governor of this Commonwealth, its General Assembly 
now in session, and the people over whom they are chosen 
to rule. Possess their minds with the spirit of wisdom and 
sound understanding, so that, in these days of trouble and per- 
plexity, they may be able to perceive the right path, and 
steadfastly to walk therein. So enlighten, direct and 
strengthen them, we pray Thee, that they, being hindered 
neither by the fear of man, nor by the love of the praise of 
men, nor by malice, nor by ambition, nor by any other evil 
passion, but being mindful of Thy constant superintendence, 
of the awful Majesty of Thy righteousness and of the strict 
account they must hereafter give to Thee, may in counsel, 
word and deed, aim supremely at the fulfillment of their 
duty, at the promotion of Thy glory, and the advancement of 
the welfare of our country. And gTant that the course of 
this world may be so peaceably ordered by Thy governance, 
that Thy Church, and this whole people, may joyfully serve 
Thee in all godly quietness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen. 



A Prayer for those ivho have gone forth to war in defense of 
their State and Country. 
O Most Gracious Lord God, our Heavenly Father, we 
commend to Thy care and protection Thy servants, who in 
behalf of their families and their country have gone forth to 
meet the dangers of war. Direct and lead them in safety ; 



21 

bless them in their efforts to protect and defend this land ; 
preserve them from the violence of the sword and from sick- 
ness; from injurious accidents; from treachery and from 
surprise ; from carelessness of duty, from confusion and fear ; 
from mutiny and disorder, from evil living, and from forget- 
f ulness of Thee. Enable them to return in safety and honor ; 
that we being defended from those who would do us hurt, 
may rejoice in Thy mercies, and Thy Church give Thee 
thanks in Peace and Truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen. 



A Prayer for the People of the Confederate States. 

O Lord, our God, Who rulest over all the Hosts of Heaven, 
and over all the nations of the earth. Thou hast power to cast 
down, or to raise up whomsoever Thou wilt, and to save by 
many or by few ; and we now come to Thee to help and de- 
fend us in this time of danger and necessity. We acknowl- 
edge and lament, O God, the many gi'ievous sins, by which we 
have justly provoked Thy wrath and indignation, and wert 
Thou extreme to mark iniquities, O Lord, we could not 
abide it. But it is Thy nature and property ever to have 
mercy and to forgive ; and we beseech Thee now to extend to 
ns Thine accustomed mercy, and to deliver us from the evils 
and dangers to which we are exposed. Do Thou, O Lord, 
remove from our borders all invading armies; confound the 
devices of such as would do us hurt, and send us speedily a 
just and honorable and lasting peace. And above every 
earthly blessing give us, as a people, grace to know, and love, 
and serve Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 



-. t^^^i'. 'jt'CEKil^' '\A;?^'iL. • >*-,*^""",r^ .ii-,'^>l:»' J ti.- J V .- * ;• 'r^'^^^ 



Copies of this Address can be obtained of 

Alfred Williams & Go., Raleigh 
Rev. Francis M. Osborne, Charlotte 

At 25 cents a copy 



Sold for the benefit of the Bishop Atkinson 
Memorial Church, Charlotte